Archive for the ‘Counties’ Tag

Gwinnett Jury hits Kroger for $2.4 Million for slip and fall   1 comment

Lawrenceville, Ga January 20, 2012 1:30pm.

The allegations in the case included that the customer sustained serious injury, necessitation a 5-level cervical fusion, when he fell in a foreign substance at a Kroger grocery store.  The trial judge struck Kroger’s answer and found it liable for the injuries sustained by the customer when evidence developed during discovery suggested that the Kroger employees had tampered with and destroyed video surveillence footage of the incident and had deliberately deceived the customer’s lawyer during the lawsuit.  Thus, the jury was only charged with the duty to arive at a dollar figure that would compensate the customer for his injuries and permanent disability.

The Gwinnett County Jury also found that Kroger had been stubbornly litigious.  Based on that factual finding, the judge sent them back to the jury room for a second round of deliberations. This time their job was to calculate the attorneys fees and expenses incurred by the customer and to reimburse him for those expenses.  After about five minutes of deliberations, the jury awarded an additional 40% of its base verdict of  $1.689 Million for a grand total of $2,364,600.

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ATC Partner Given Service Award By Gwinnett County Bar Association   Leave a comment

Andersen, Tate & Carr is proud to announce that one of its partners, Render C. Freeman, was awarded the 2011 Meritorious Service Award from the Gwinnett County Bar Association in Recognition of Outstanding Service to Gwinnett County and the State of Georgia.  In significant part, the award was based on Mr. Freeman’s role as Regional Coordinator for the Gwinnett County High School Mock Trial Competition since 2006.  Before Mr. Freeman filled this role, ATC partner Don Swift served as Regional Coordinator for three years.  To review Mr. Freeman’s full profile, please go to http://www.atclawfirm.com/attorneys/render-c-freeman/

 Mr. Freeman’s commitment to his community is just one example of our firm’s service philosophy.  In fact, each of our lawyer’s profile pages has a section dedicated to Civic Activities. At Andersen, Tate & Carr, serving our community is an integral part of what we do.

ATC Has A New Partner!   Leave a comment

Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C. is pleased to announce that it has elected R. Matthew “Matt” Reeves as a member of the firm.

Matt Reeves is a veteran business, real estate, and probate litigation attorney at Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C.  He is the President-Elect of the Gwinnett County Bar Association and was counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the 2008 Georgia General Assembly.  Matt graduated with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law and Mercer University.  He and his wife, Suzette, have three young children and reside in Duluth.  Reeves is optimistic about the future of Gwinnett County and the firm, in part because he interviewed with the firm as a law student the week after September 11, 2001 and remembers witnessing the post-9/11 recovery in the area after extremely dark days.

Michael Sullivan Appointed to Engage Gwinnett Committee   Leave a comment

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Michael Sullivan, a partner in our Commercial Real Estate group, has been named to the Engage Gwinnett committee as the representative of the Council for Quality Growth.

The committee is tasked with performing a 6-month study of Gwinnett County’s services and finances.

For more information check the website for the committee: www.engagegwinnett.com

Leasing Restriction Brouhaha in HOAs   2 comments

There have always been difficulties swirling around having leasing restrictions in homeowners associations. Now there are some new wrinkles for Georgia homeowners associations to watch.

Unfolding right now, Walker v. Charter Club on the River Home Owners Association, Inc., Superior Court of Gwinnett County Case No. 08-A-08345-10 (Order filed March 26, 2009) brings into question the enforceability of some existing leasing restrictions, but not all.

The case turns on a novel interpretation of O.C.G.A. Section 44-5-60(d)(4). O.C.G.A. Section 44-5-60 contains the infamous 20 year limitation on covenants, which often provides problems for owners, especially in neighborhoods where the folks involved in development did not realize their covenants would terminate, by law, after twenty years. There are a lot of strange quirks to the application of this law, not the least of which are the later changes to the statute that allow for some degree of renewal of the covenants does not have retroactive application . . . but the details of those quirks are a subject for another day.

In the subdivision where this case arose, the association adopted a leasing restriction that prohibited leasing except when grandfathered (applicable only to existing leases) or when the owner was granted a hardship permit. Owners of a lot (the Walkers) had been leasing their home for two years already at the time of the amendment. When they replaced the tenant that existed at the time of the leasing amendment, the association took action to enforce the near-absolute restriction on leasing.

The narrow concept on which the Walker case is not whether there was a hardship for which the Walkers should have been granted an exception, or how the grandfather clause should have worked, or even if the amendment was adopted properly. It was instead whether O.C.G.A. Section 44-5-60(d)(4) could be construed to prevent the creation of a “greater restriction” on the owner’s use of their property, despite following the amendment provisions contained in the declaration of covenants.

The judge ruled that indeed, the creation of this restriction was a greater restriction on the owner’s use of the property under the terms of the statute and, therefore, the leasing amendment could not be applied against an owner who did not consent to it.

What is interesting about this case is the questions it raises about the enforceability of leasing restrictions and other restriction changes adopted by amendment. The analysis and ruling are limited to this specific fact pattern and do not provide a magic bullet for overturning all leasing restrictions.

However, the ruling may open the door to arguments using O.C.G.A. Section 44-5-60(d)(4) to overturn other types of amendments that seek to change (and expand) the covenants currently in place in a subdivision. It will be interesting to watch this issue unfold over time, but in the short term it is an issue for associations to be aware of when deciding to adopt changes to create leasing restrictions or other covenants that are “greater” than what already exists.

Of course, given the detail and specificity of the arguments made, it is best to contact an attorney with questions and concerns about adopting amendments, especially leasing restrictions, or disputing their validity.

By: Amy H. Bray, a partner in our Commercial Real Estate department.

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 Amy H. Bray is a Georgia attorney, focusing her practice in community association and real estate law matters. 

 Her firm, Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C., works with all manner of clients in business and personal matters, providing “big firm” sophistication with suburban law firm attention and service.

Website: www.atclawfirm.com

Blog: www.andersentatecarr.wordpress.com

 Copyright © 2009 & 2010, Amy H. Bray & Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C.

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